The California Department of Technology (CDT) celebrated the graduation this week of the 27th class of the Information Technology Leadership Academy (ITLA), a career-development training ground for state government’s future IT leaders.

Thirty students from 23 different departments and agencies made up the cohort that graduated last week — and, due to the COVID-19 disruptions in the workplace, it was the first to mark its graduation with a virtual video ceremony rather than in-person festivities.

Brenda Bridges Cruz, CDT’s deputy director for the Office of Professional Development and the executive sponsor for the academy, moderated the 33-minute graduation video, which featured remarks by CDT director and state Chief Information Officer Amy Tong; Richard Rogers, acting deputy state CIO and chief deputy director of CDT; and Quentin Wright, a graduate of ITLA 25 who’s now the departmental CIO for CDT.

Tong touched on how she views leadership, and she urged graduates to “be that rock” for their subordinates as they move up in their careers.

Among the other highlights cited in the video:

  • Joe Panora, a retired agency CIO with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from January 2008 through December 2014, will be the first honoree on CDT’s “Wall of Fame.” Panora, now CEO of Panora Associates and a Senior Fellow with the Center for Digital Government,* has been a frequent conference speaker, adviser and instructor in state IT circles.
  • Andrew Armani, the retiring agency information officer (AIO) for both the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency and the Government Operations Agency, was congratulated for his 30 years with the state and for serving as state government’s first AIO.
  • Chief Scott Howland, the retiring CIO for the California Highway Patrol (CHP), was also lauded for his 30 years of service in uniform and as an industry speaker, educator and ITLA champion.

Among the ITLA testimonials featured in the video was one from Quentin Wright, a member of ITLA 25.

“It really helped me get to where I am today,” Wright said. “After I graduated — a week and a half (later) — I became the CIO of the Office of Traffic Safety, and then this year, became the CIO of CDT, where ITLA resides.”

Here are the graduates and their departmental affiliations:

Christopher Anderson, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Leo Anguiano, Department of Water Resources

Kori Arbis, California Department of Recycling

Sridhar Arjula, CDT

Jennifer Bernardo, Department of Health Care Services (DHCS)

Jagmeet Bhinder, California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS)

Lorna Brisco, Department of General Services, FI$Cal support

Chad Corrin, Department of State Hospitals

Javier Diaz, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)

Ryan Doutt, California Correctional Health Care Services

Minette Enriquez, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Badrinath Ganesan, Covered California

Lisa Gauthier, Office of Systems Integration, CalHEERS

Bradley Gilton, Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development

Saul Gonzalez, Department of State Hospitals

Jenna Herford, California Health and Human Services Agency, Office of the Agency Information Officer

Amanda Holmes-Davidian, Department of Social Services

Caleb Jameson, CHP

Albert Lam, Department of Community Services and Development

Tracy Lee, Franchise Tax Board (FTB)

Prerna Mahajan, Department of Human Resources

Emer McKenna, Office of the Legislative Counsel

Melissa Pulka, DHCS

Samuel Retta, Department of Motor Vehicles

Kevin Ross, Caltrans

Kim Sichler, Child Support Services

Simmi Singh, OSI

Etta SoRelle, FTB

Geetha Swaminathan, CalPERS

Kathleen Twomey, Employment Development Department

*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Techwire's parent company.